Bloody Sox

Red Sox Rants — and other random opinions about sports

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

The disentheofication of the Red Sox

If reports are correct, the Boston Red Sox will be making a whopper of a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers today, trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for a grab bag of prospects (and James Loney). If this happens, today will be the best day for the Red Sox since they last clinched a World Series (2007). Making that statement is enough of an indictment of the way this team has been managed, I suppose. But I won’t leave it there.

Theo Epstein almost destroyed the Red Sox before he fled town for the ivy covered walls of Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs, hampering them with fat, long-term contracts for underperforming players. I truly thought it would take years before the Sox would be able to right the ship, but it looks as if Ben Cherington might just have made the deal of the decade. That doesn’t mean I am happy to see Adrian Gonzalez go. He could never, of course, live up to his contract. But he is an excellent first baseman, and he is a solid, middle-of-the-order hitter. Still, the Sox need to free up the money for his salary to plug other holes.

Carl Crawford showed signs of becoming the player he once was with Tampa Bay before deciding to get Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He too, however, could never be worth the $20 plus million the Sox owed him for the next five seasons.

As for Beckett, well good riddance.

So now Ben Cherington will have some payroll flexibility to mold this team into his own vision. I hope and expect he’ll not follow in the arrogant footsteps of his friend and mentor, Theo Epstein. That means a return to relying on prospects and making smart free agent signings, not because you CAN dole out tons of money, but because you’re filling a real need with a reliable player. Whether or not he is able to do this remains to be seen. But now at least he has that chance.


No pitchforks

Someone is going to have to explain to me what exactly it is that the Boston Red Sox players did that is so bad.

Earlier this week the intrepid Jeff Passan got a few people to not go on the record to tell the story of a meeting players had with ownership. Oooo. That’s dreadful!

Tell me one other job in America where you can’t talk with the person signing your paycheck.

From the frothing at the mouth I’ve heard on MLB Radio (normally a fairly level-headed media outlet), you’d think the players stormed the castle carrying pitchforks and torches, demanding Bobby Valentine’s head.

Nothing is further from the truth, of course. Even Passan’s story makes that clear. Someone, probably Adrian Gonzalez, texted ownership (as the players are invited to do) with concern about how Bobby Valentine handled a rough outing by Jon Lester. This prompted owner John Henry to invite the players to meet with him to discuss the issue. This meeting was held on an off day, yet 17 players went to it. That’s how important it was to the players. They aired their grievances and went back to playing ball (admittedly not very well). This is how mature organizations behave. Where’s the controversy?

Passan reported that some players said they couldn’t play for Bobby Valentine anymore. Okay, who are those players? The meeting took place almost three weeks ago and I’m unaware of any players quitting. The supposed ringleaders, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, are still playing and in fact playing well. Gonzalez was recently named AL player of the week.

Again I ask, what’s the problem here? Why are we making such a big deal of this? The players had their chance to discuss issues with ownership, back to business. They had put this behind themselves until Passan dug it up.

Some feel, I guess, that players should be loyal to a manager no matter what, and that loyalty extends to NEVER talking with anyone but the manager. Seriously? Is that how it works at your job? Is that how you’d want it? If you think your supervisor is abusing your colleagues, is making decisions that hurt your business, you mean to tell me you would not talk to HIS/HER boss? If that’s the case, you’re an idiot. And a bad employee.

Beyond all this, how the Red Sox handle THEIR business is… THEIR BUSINESS.

The only thing that matters is the play on the field. You want to criticize the Red Sox for that, I’m with you.

Defending the fans

Last night, Josh Beckett removed himself from the Red Sox/Tigers game in the third inning. In the rainy ballpark, his back had begun to spasm and he had walked in a run. As he walked off the mound, Beckett was showered with a rain of boos from the crowd on hand. Today, sports reporter Pete Abraham takes these fans to task for booing an injured athlete, and reminding Sox fans of what Beckett has contributed to the team the past seven seasons.

I agree with Pete, fans should not boo Beckett or any other athlete for an injury. But, of course, that’s not why the fans were booing. They were having a collective gut reaction to an unlikeable player, one who regularly makes it known he doesn’t care what the fans think. Beckett was part of the chicken and bear brigade last year. Remember the September collapse when Beckett appeared to be out of shape and regularly provided sub-par performances when his team needed him most. When chicken-gate was outed to the public, instead of being contrite, Beckett was belligerent and seemed mostly to only care about who snitched on him. Then, earlier in this season, Beckett had to skip a start due to stiffness or some such ailment, only to have it revealed that the day before his skipped start, he was playing golf. His performances this year have been extremely inconsistent, crossing into terrible on at least a few starts. Not only that, he’s surly and he may even have contributed in a small way to the trading away of Kevin Youkilis.

So the fans booed Josh Beckett, not the injury. Not the right thing to do in the circumstance, but nevertheless understandable  (don’t forget the fans were getting rained on too and they couldn’t dry off in the dugout between innings).

Pete Abraham tells us that Beckett has been an elite pitcher in the league, which we should appreciate. And we should. Although the Sox couldn’t get any of the other 29 clubs to make a trade for Beckett, so maybe he’s not as valuable as Pete implies.

But this is beside the point. Fans by definition are not logical in the way Pete asks us to be. In fact, the last thing Pete or anyone else whose living depends upon professional sports should want is rational fans. What happens to the Red Sox does not put food on my table or money in my checking account. Materially a Red Sox win is no more meaningful to me than some guy in Pecoima finding a plastic ring in his box of Cracker Jacks. Being fans costs us. It costs us money. It costs us time. It costs us heart ache, and we get nothing tangible back for our passion. Nothing but the ingratitude of the spoiled athletes who get wealthy from our fanaticism.

If we fans were rational, we would not spend hundreds of dollars taking our families to games. We wouldn’t spend precious time reading meaningless articles about meaningless athletes. We wouldn’t dole out $100 for an uncomfortable “authentic” jersey with Beckett’s name on it. We wouldn’t waste three-plus hours every evening listening to Joe Castiglione call the game on the radio.

Fans actually die at ballparks trying to get a souvenir baseballs for their kids.

No, fans are not rational. And if they were Pete Abraham and Josh Beckett would both be working in different fields. Because no one would go to the ballpark, no one would read the sports section. In fact, there wouldn’t be a ballpark or a sports section. What would Josh Beckett be doing if fans were rational and didn’t waste so much time and money supporting him and his team? He’d probably be selling cars or in some other occupation that would actually require him to be nice, and to care about what his customers thought of him. He’d smile and say, “thank you.” Either that, or he’d be on the bread line.

But fans are not rational. In Boston they’ve demonstrated their crazy support, spending their hard-earned money to sell out Fenway Park for over 750 games in a row.

And we really don’t ask for much. Just make us think you enjoy the game. That you appreciate us. That you understand how lucky you are to be making millions of dollars playing a game. If you do that, we’ll love you no matter what. Just ask Mike Lowell or Trot Nixon. But if you can’t be bothered to do that, then don’t be surprised if we boo.

Should Josh Beckett have been booed last night? No. But you might as well ask should the fans even have been AT the ballpark in the first place?

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